After a lengthy standoff between Democrats and Republicans, a bipartisan agreement on disaster relief funding appears to have been reached, avoiding a partial government shutdown. The bill will approve funding through October 4th and will be followed by a more comprehensive funding bill to maintain funding through November 18th.
The spending proposals will send an additional $2.65 billion in disaster relief funds to FEMA. An unusually high number of natural disasters this year, including Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm LEE, the Joplin tornadoes and other natural disasters, lead to FEMA depleting all its funds sooner than anticipated.
Both bills were passed by the Senate Monday night, the first by a 79 – 12 vote and the second by voice vote.
The disaster relief bill was passed by the House today and is on its way to President Obama’s desk. Since the House is in a one week recess, the vote will be conducted through “unanimous consent”. This allows only a handful of representatives to approve a bill, barring any filed objections.
Failure to reach an agreement could have left FEMA no choice but to cease all disaster response activities. This would have meant not only ending current relief efforts but would also have left the agency powerless to respond to any future emergencies.
Once signed by the President, the new disaster relief funding would become available Saturday.
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